tv National Press Foundation 2019 Policy Politics Preview Part 2 CSPAN December 10, 2018 9:57pm-10:53pm EST
with trump. it will be interesting to see if the trade war with china does not calm down. maybe he will get more vocal. are about out of time. this has been a fascinating discussion. we obviously can talk more about and what toers expect in the next congress. i think you have got all about our contact information in your conference materials, but again, i would like to thank our guests for their insights, and i wish you all well this afternoon as the briefing continues, and on the half of rollcall, thank you very much for having us. [applause]
>> ok, folks. let's get going with our next panel, please. so now, we are going to go to the other end of pennsylvania avenue. we have three distinguished reporters with us to talk about next year, and the next couple of years, from the white house and from the trump agenda perspective. we have with us the white house .orrespondent for sirius xm he is the current president of the white house correspondents association. we have margaret talev who is the pastmberg news and
president of the white house correspondent association, and to my immediate right, we have anita kumar, the white house correspondent. she is now on the board of the association, and she is a former fellow. each of them ask to talk for a little bit about a different aspect of the next year, kind of what to be on the lookout for from the white house agenda perspective, from the investigation's perspective, and then from the media perspective. i will explain why and a second. couplen i will ask a questions and then toss it out to you. based on the last panel, we have plenty of questions out there, so i am going to keep my questions to a minimum. we have plenty of time for questions for all of you. it is a little after 10:00. this session will go until 11:00. i will have a changeover in our
final session, three experts talking about the investigations front. i want to start with olivier xm. from sirius can you maybe tell us a little bit about what we can can you tell us a little about what we can expect from the president's agenda? >> but me start by acknowledging that there is a bit of an absurdity about trying to predict what this president will this any timeframe, but long project of remaking the federal judiciary, arguably o-date, president trump's legacy. there is a chance it could accelerate. that is something that we know will keep happening. some of the other aspects of the
p/gop agenda are in trouble because of democrat control in the house. i would not expect another tax plan tilted toward cup -- corporations. there are events that are foisted on this white house. looking at the big items, the so-called new nafta, the usmca. withdrawthreatening to from nafta, giving lawmakers the choice of approving nafta or trade regimetire collapse. the administration is planning to make an all-out push behind that. they want to see if they can
make progress on it. denuclearization talks don't seem to be paying off at the moment. that is something they are committed to in the medium to long haul. on administration has, several occasions, promised to release its middle east peace plan. we will see if they do. that would add another layer of complexity to their foreign-policy agenda. it is cliche to say that when presidents lose a chamber of congress, they turn to foreign think we willre i see that. not on trade. are the big agenda items
that we can forecast with some certainty. we don't know the degree to which this will be sidetracked investigations into individuals in the trump administration. >> we will turn to nina now. what can we expect in terms of how the white house is gearing up? nina: thank you for having me. in terms of the investigation, we are looking at the house is democratic controlled and impeachment and whether they will do that. i know that there is a debate in the democratic party about how much they should do. that some ofter the freshman democrats are sending to leadership saying, let's focus on legislation not investigation. there is a debate on how much they want to do and how much
they will do. it could be anything from issues like the policy they had separating children from parents at the border. the hurricane response in puerto rico. it could deal with anything about the president's he issses, whether violating the constitution and profiting from foreign governments, his tax returns. it could be so many things they might look at. house, iof the white have done some reporting over the last few months, before the election when it would go this way -- when it looked like it would go this way, a lot of republicans who support the white house were afraid the white house was not preparing for what they have now. who haveg to people gone through this in the past, with the george w. bush
administration and the obama administration, when congress changed hands, they learned a lot of lessons of things they should do. hire more staff is the number one things. the white house is already understaffed. staffeeded more staff and who were separate from everyone else that are just dealing with the investigation. you heard some people say that they wished that emmett flood would be the white house counsel. he was not chosen but some were lobbying president trump to choose him. he will still be at the white house dealing with the russian investigation, but the investigations will be far greater than the russian investigation. telling staff to hire their own attorneys as opposed to someone in the white house doing that for them. thatpeople were saying
they were doing their own research on themselves, what are the areas of vulnerability for them. one in the news was how ivanka trump was using private email to do government business, things they could have started to research and get their ducks in a row that they didn't do. they are starting to do that now but they have this serious problem where they are always understaffed. that will continue to be a problem for them. else?re anything >> the last point you ended with, the serious problem of always being understaffed. why is that? why can't they get up to staff? a question of alaska all of you f -- question i will ask all of
you, what is the next chief of staff going to be like? what type of person will he allow? why is the white house not able to hire enough people? nina: let me back up and just talk in general. this is a white house where most of the people who came in, like the president, did not have government experience or white house experience. with they need is to hire people who have bereen there before. that is where they don't want to do that or those people don't want to come into this white house. if you see the turnover, you see it everyday, the controversies. people don't want to get involved in that. that is why they wanted somebody like flood. he had been there that is also very respected. part of it is hiring, but also
hiring good people to get other .ood people >> let's go to margaret. what i want margaret to talk about in this opener is whether her perspective on the job the journalists are doing has changed. margaret has the luxury or the opportunity to lead -- leave the beltway bubble and be in the cambridge bubble. kennedyteaching at the school institute on politics. she has been out of the daily news flow for three months, after a dozen years of being in the news flow. she goes back to her day job tomorrow. when i talked to her on friday,
i think she was packing her apartment. anyoneeryone -- whenever has been away from the daily news flow, i want perspective -- i want to know their perspective on how well the media is doing has changed. were hugely important at 3:00 p.m. in the newsroom, do they seem as important now? being away, has it made you look at it differently? margaret: my glow will fade pretty quick. by friday i will be just like all of you are. >> thanks. [laughter] we're not glowing? margaret: first of all, my colleagues are doing such a great job. i appreciated the opportunity to step back because this is t -- because i was tired. this is a killer pace.
4:30 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. everyday. you are constantly trying to juggle. you do that when covering any white house, but usually the issues of the day are like who will get the assistant secretary for whatever position. balance of the shiny object versus the long-term narrative is different than it is now. hows acutely aware of exhausting it is when you are here doing it. like chris said, it's not like i was in kentucky or dayton or west virginia or somewhere in the pennsylvania excerpts, i was at harvard. observationsfew from a demographic that skews young, in terms of students, and
in terms of faculty and adults, toward people who are in the mix in government. these are people who are former -- do iors or former need to adjust this? having said all of that, a few observations. mores that there is storyst in the long-term outside of washington than the short-term story. staff the next chief of is not as much a concern outside washington as it is in washington. the day-to-day turn of the mueller investigation is not as much a concern, but what it all means is a concern. there is interest outside washington. journalists sticking with the longer-term story and telling us
in every story why is this important and why do i need to know this? outside of the bubble, i saw a real interest in politics in the context of our national story, but not of politics obliterating the national story. in the university, there is a tremendous interest in tech and inventions. and business, not just the unemployment rate, but where are things going, what is the future of america? not the political future, not the narrative of the future, but where our things actually going and how does politics fit in? one interesting observation is that a lot of the students, particularly at the institute of you takebecause if
part in the institute of politics, you are inherently interested in public service. you are probably running for office one day. years,last couple students have begun to ask themselves, is that where i can have the biggest impact? how else can i serve the public? done?ngress get things i wanted to run for congress or work for a member of congress, is that the best way to make a change? this question of gridlock is a big question. this will surprise no one. there is a tremendous amount of interest in 2020 and what they other party's field looks like. if i had to summarize it down to a couple main points, there is much greater interest on the big picture and on substance and less of a stated interest in the
daily knife fight. sometimes, people say what they are interested in, but you can't look away. that is what we struggle with. >> do you miss the daily knife fight? margaret: i am here. >> your knives are sharpened and ready for tomorrow? margaret: my knife is my pen. >> i have a couple questions and then we will turn it to the audience. how do you think that trump's relationship with the press will change next year? is he going to be more combative? or because he might have to change his strategy with congress, will he try to be more accommodating? will his tweet strategy remain the same? is it possible to predict what he might be doing in his relationship with the press that might be different than what he
is doing? i don't see any reason for him to become less combative. he has elevated us as one of his primary enemies. this benefits him on a political level. he is always better when he is against someone or something. you saw it in the republican primaries and the companion -- campaign, and not having an opponent, having the referendum the on him, you saw how that worked out. i don't track the day-to-day of the mueller investigation. i don't talk about it much on my show. it requires me taking it as a full-time job and i don't want to. depending how that goes, you can imagine him getting more combative. a twittern engaged in campaign to discredit all of the investigations targeting him
more people close to him. i don't see why he would become less combative. closer,ly as 2020 gets the tim tatian will be to ramp things up. ptation will be to ramp things up. takehave decided not to that route with the press secretary. the president is giving a press conference every 20 minutes. the walk between marine one and the south lawn is almost always an occasion for him to talk. i wish that there were a daily briefing for a few reasons. people who are hurt by not having a daily briefing are the smaller outlets. if you are the associated press or bloomberg, you have a
full-time presence at the white house. it doesn't matter. you'll be there whether the briefing is at noon or 3:00. the smaller outlets with two correspondents in all of washington, having a designated time when you can ask questions really matters. some of the smaller outlets are really screwed by the decision to discontinue these briefings. they are important for us to clear out the underbrush of news. the president, your question is probably not, are you having lunch with that senator on tuesday? the technical aspects of policy, you often don't direct those to the president. we're losing with the daily briefing is the underbrush of news and these smaller outlets
that -- they were already struggling and now they're really getting hurt. to sum up, i don't see why it would get better. , i'm guessingand he will still be as available as he has been. >> what do you think about the change in the daily briefing status? you are in the third row, right? is the change, in terms of how you are getting information from the white house -- how do you evaluate that? nina: i would say that every white house does not want to provide that much information. in terms of whether they are answering questions, i would say it is similar to the obama white house in that they did not want to answer questions. we are not their everyday.
team.a two-person we are not their everyday. we have not started staffing the departures every time because they are at different times. we are doing a million other things. should we try to be there for those and set of the briefing? we haven't -- instead of the briefing? we haven't made that switch. changing.e that i go back to the thing that olivier said at the beginning. trumpou talk to people, allies in washington, republicans, it's working for him. it works as a strategy to have the news media as the "enemy" or whatever you call it. it is working for him.
they like that. i don't think it will change. said this in other settings and i want to emphasize it. i am a little gray now. the best way to cover the white house is not to cover the white house. it is talking to congress, the state department, the pentagon, to former officials, to foreign governments. lobbyists. "outside" advisors. be besto emphasize that way to do that is not to pry information from the white house. you're always looking for overlap of information. you are reaching out to these other sources of information in washington, d.c. like and what i don't
what i think is dangerous about the anti-media rhetoric is that i think it has an undermining effect on american democracy. it and dangers working journalists in this country and overseas. our day-to-dayes lives uncomfortable. if you are in washington and paying attention, you know that president trump's relationship with the media is more complicated than an enemy. you are constantly getting called in, there are constant availabilities, he clearly enjoys and cultivates the engagement. for the media, one of the questions in the transition from the administration has always been, how much do you push back to protect the traditional role or powers of the media, versus
how much do you see that as a deliberate distraction and try to focus on the news? that continues to be a give and take. as time has gone on, you have seen outlets change policies a headline orweet do you wait and see where it is going? should it just exist on its own? is a rally a breaking news event to be covered as if it were an airplane crash for 250 people, or is it a rally that does not need to be carried live for two horus and can be broke -- horus urs and can be broken down into soundbites. assert the larger media a contextual filter onto a news event. one of the challenges of the president is that he likes to drive the narrative. he's gifted at it.
if you're not driving the narrative and someone else is setting the pace, it changes your ability to decide what is a news cycle and what is not. heading into the second half of this term, you'll see that happen in a different way. i don't think our job changes at all. toss it to you folks. give us your name and where you're from. wait just a beat. do we have questions out here? law.am with bloomberg margaret, you were talking about the interest in the larger picture. does that interest extend to the
specific aspects of policy? i cover health care and look at the likelihood of medicare for all. do they look at that and what specifics it entails or is it mostly the politics? margaret: sure, but the trouble is in defining "they." there are some people who care a lot about the discrete policy of health care. there are some who care a lot about regulations that will affect facebook and twitter. they are not always the same people. part of the challenges of covering any white house is that you have to be a generalist for everything. administration, there is the added challenge of re efforts tod mo
disrupt norms that you have, in addition to the longer term -- how do you advanced policy? are people more interested with iran and north korea, or social movements in the united states? on top of those policy and longer narrative questions, how do you juggle all of the stuff that is happening? it is not an easy answer. one-stopenge for shopping, the major news outlets, is what is the balance on the policy issues? there is a tremendous interest in policy. environmental policy, climate policy. there is a tremendous interest in terms of foreign relations 's evolvinge u.s.
trade relationships say about atlantic alliances, the future of china versus the rest of the asia-pacific. a different is question for each organization. how do you decide which policy to focus on? >> questions? nick? >> nick ruby, honolulu civil beat. what under the radar policy changes should we keep an eye out for? shifts in immigration policy or rolling back environmental regulations? anything,ould be including both of the things that you just mentioned. see.hing that you will president obama did the same thing. when congress is of a different party, president's tend to take
things on themselves, executive power. this president has done that already. i think he'll do more. i think that a lot of things that don't get covered as much an that he will have executive order and that might get covered, but the thing in the last couple of years -- people have done it here and ande, but it's the rules regulations that are changing in the individual agencies. is an example, for all of th debate about gun control, there have been smaller rules that have changed. interior andt of justice that have actually made a difference to people who care about that issue that aren't getting covered as much. he'll take on a lot but i think
that the agencies will continue to do things just as they have. it is the uncovered thing that should be covered more. olivier: the other thing that i would say is, as democrats assert themselves more, one thing you should always watch in any presidency is signing statements. when the president signs something into law but says, this is now a law, but i'm also going to disregard the following 15 provisions because they go against my constitutional powers. that will be interesting to watch. if house democrats are putting that cano legislation, happen, it will be interesting to see how they respond to that. to see how the white house uses that tool. it was widely used by george w. bush and somewhat less by barack obama. this president has already done that a lot.
that is something that you always want to watch. a time that you have a splashy headline about legislation, let's say for argument's ake, legislation -- for argument's legislation regarding the can they go around the legislation or through the legislation and still do what they want? for all of you, one of the most common instincts in covering policy is looking at what the administration is affirmatively doing, what are they creating, what legislation will the president be able to pass when the democrats control the house? but look at the other side of the coin. it is easier to destroy things than to create them.
president hashis felt his mandate is to do is to chip away at institutions that he or his base feel have not effectively served their interests. when you look at the big developments, it has been to curtail the affordable care act, or u.s. participation in the global climate agreement, the iran deal. i would keep an eye on that side of the coin. in addition to looking at how much harder it will be to pass things, i would look at continued efforts to undo things the president and his team have argued were too much governance or regulation, or too multilateral, were too politically correct. it is easier when you don't need an affirmative vote to do it.
it is still easier to chip away than it is to create. when it is that much harder to create, would look to the other box. mint post.y with i'm curious what you all expect to change with the 2020 election, how the president will respond to an historic field of democrats, probably getting started earlier than ever. what do you expect from the president personally and how do house tot the white respond to the 2020 election? margaret: that is a big question. olivier: i started answering by saying that there is some absurdities to predicting what will happen in january. i'm cautious. lots of nicknames.
we don't know the size of the , but we don'tld know how the democrats will manage that. just from the point of view of debates. there are a couple of things we can usually expect. how the white house will function is a good question. -- i woulde a great expect it to be run to the usual this house dynamic, does serve our electoral purposes as much as the policy purposes. i am hesitant to make confident
predictions. not only because there is an eternity between now and then but because of the unorthodox nature of this. margaret: yes with the nicknames. i was going to try out a couple on you guys. there is some interplay i would look for. molar --ere the mueller impeach or not impeach line is going. the may shape the way president is thinking of responding. i think the president and his political team will be keenly 30ching that field of 25 to candidates and will try to understand --
[no audio] it is hard to predict because the democratic party does not know what it wants. this is the stuff that makes the president tick. not precisely how an infrastructure deal could come together. that evergreen question of, is there any upside reaching outus for for any sort of compromise on infrastructure. is that real? will that help you win reelection? -basedagonism and politics -- does that get you where you want to be?
i think you will see movement out of the white house. theink where and when miller probe ends up will shape the narrative for the early parts of that cycle. in a different way, the president will be doing what all of us are doing which is trying to understand what the democratic field looks like. if you broke it into three or four categories, what each of those matchups could look like against the incumbent administration. nina: i will agree with everything that you just mentioned and one last thing. you can see from his tweets and what he says that certain things set him off. when you see a development in the russia probe or whatever. we will have the russia investigation continuing, investigations in the house, and
20 or 30 democrats bashing him, basically. from a personal standpoint, a lot of people are talking about, can the democrats and the white house come to an agreement? as we have seen, it will be hard for him to push those things aside and come up with an agreement. a combination of those three things means he will likely be more combative. that is what we have seen. this will be three things going on at the same time. know.vier says, you never let me ask a simplistic softball. isthose 30 candidates, what your intelligence from the campaign side? who worries him the most? does anybody worry him?
margaret: i don't know if this is cooked enough for them to get a sense of it. presumably, they're watching the same beto o'rourke mania, trying to figure out, is there some person, eithew in the existingr pod of candidates who could capture people's's imaginations have a wave about them in the same way that donald trump did. one of the scenarios he would not want is someone who could beat him at his own game but with a different type of voter. on sometrying to assess level the same thing that reporters are. who could turn out to vote? and the difference between this
time and last time is that when it was candidate trump, it was a set of ideas. when it is president trump, it is a set of results. you are judged on what you are able to deliver. on someone toleap shake up the establishment because you believed that only by shaking up the establishment could you return coal jobs to a place that is in trouble, is four years enough time? do people want to see the results after four years? the difference between this time and last time is that he will be judged on his record in the first four years. be precisely the same dynamic as it was in 2016. questions?
>> cnn. do you anticipate any shift in the dynamic between the justice department and this white house president, given the new ag nom? olivier: that is a great question. i am not as familiar with varr as -- barr as some of my colleagues. i did got internet digging when he was announced and i found a fascinating oral history of the attorneys general at the miller center. there are great ones on senate.gov. some good ones in a couple other places. they are worth reading because you understand how it happened from the point of view of the people in the room and with th eir names attached.
ted kaufman has a really good one. one of the things i found was barr bragging that he was one of the hardliners on the iran contra pardons. he said others were saying we should only pardon a couple and i was saying, no, as many as possible. i don't know to what degree that mr. barr from that era and this era share beliefs. people change. but we look at congress and the courts, and of course mueller. there are all of these things happening. i thought it was interesting that he picked someone who was such an ardent advocate of presidential pardon power.
>> what are the mechanisms for communication between the white house and congress that we should have our eye on? who are the people that will be influencing the direction that this white house takes with this congress? what are the entry points as a reporter? olivier mentioned going from the outside in. i know when i am looking at a particular issue, like immigration, my first calls are to the people who are like-minded with the president. you never know who they have consulted. you could do the same for president obama.
there were so many things at the white house had not released, but somehow the center for american progress had some white paper out the week before. the following week almost the same thing came from the white house. , theld look for the people groups, the association, the lobbyists on the same side of the president to find out his thinking. it may not be president trump in a room with these people, but you can bet that somebody there is talking to them. i have done a lot of immigration stuff. a lot of us have. , theret in particular are groups that the white house is in touch with, floating ideas. don't discount the other side. you want to know how they will proposal or what vulnerabilities they think that they have.
i keep calling people that are on that particular issue. lobbyists onons that issue. that's a lot of people on capitol hill also involved. it depends on the issue you are looking at. it depends what issue it is. you can go to the committee or the member of congress. andier: ranking members opposition. great sources of information. they have access to the committee workings, the conversations the committee has with the administration. ranking members in opposition are a good source. i feel silly saying this because it is so obvious, but there are some lawmakers who are passionate champions of policy x or policy y.
they will stay abreast of every wrinkle of that conversation. two democrats as examples. tim kaine has been calling for a congressional vote to authorize the use of military force overseas for an overhaul of the post-9/11 legal framework in the war on terrorism. he has been calling for that since 2012. his letters to and from the department of defense have been illuminating. how this congress wages war without explicit authority. and accountability for the war on yemen since 2013. these are people who stay on top of these issues closely. examples of people on the hill who are following something closely.
there is a member of congress from arkansas who just made it possible for his constituents to text him. he is on top of the way members of congress communicate with constituents. if of the great things is, you care about anything in the world of policy, somebody on the hill wants to talk to you. they want to make a case for why things are good or bad. it takes a little floating to figure out which ones your trust , and that's the biggest part of the report here. thats's in a nutshell. margaret: a lot of this is right in front of you. pen,u took out a pad and you could draw a circle that starts in the oval office and remind yourself of the connections that you know are there.
the president's office of legislative affairs. they are the lawmakers -- this president more than any other president likes to engage with directly, they are in his year all the time. mark meadows, lindsey graham, tom cotton, probably half a dozen others. the vice president's office. the vice president served in congress. his team has connections into the hill. there are those folks. there are the people inside this white house who know democrats as well, ivanka and jared. this is already in front of you. it is a matter of reminding yourself of these connections. check every box. see who they are meeting with and it will help you to understand what the back channels are for these ideas. >> back of the room.
>> [inaudible] influence of religious organizations in this administration. it seems like something that has been under the radar. every once in a while you do see a reference to it in random stories. i wonder whether there is more influence of the religious right than we may be aware of on a variety of issues. voters areeological the backbone -- evangelical voters are the backbone of his support. i would say that this project of remaking the federal judiciary in a conservative image has been the single biggest payoff. they are getting a generation of judges on the bench.
i am not as well versed in the religious organizations and their influence. i would make those points. i am also not that well versed in it but i am reminded of something a colleague told me. when they came into office, people were looking at mike pence has the go to person on these issues. when you talked to a couple of these organizations, they have been pleasantly surprised at how donald trump has basically done everything that they have asked. a saying they are asking and he is doing it -- i am not saying, they are asking and he is doing it. just that it is as if it were mike pence. it was one group in particular itt told my colleague that is kind of under the radar, but they have had this great relationship. they feel a door is always open
and they can go to this white house. >> we have time for one or two more quick questions. anybody out there? olivier: one of the things that popped up before the election was a tax cut. is that going to come up again or was that floated and will go away? olivier: the house republicans talked about that last summer. they said they would try to set up another vote in the fall. like,t at the time wouldn't it be great if we could do a symbolic vote on taxes to remind people, even if it didn't get through? i don't see how that gets revived. not the republican version. democrats are in control of the house. could democrats choose to include very specific tax cut
language? absolutely. it's not going to be the republican blueprint. nina: right after the election, the president had a press conference. nancy pelosi had a press conference. it was interesting to see the policy issues that they both mentioned. the only one in common was infrastructure. it was close to that. when you talk to people who are looking at this, that is the one thing they say that they might be able to agree on in some fashion. i don't know about the tax cut. that is not something a lot of people have been talking about. if you talk to any reporter in the beltway, they tell you the same story. democrats are believing a gigantic -- are breathing a gigantic sigh of relief.
timedid not start off this in office by dropping off a conventional infrastructure package. now you're hearing, we need to work on infrastructure. theiruse dems want to set own terms. margaret: the only thing i would add to this is we manage to get through an hour without talking about the economy. the economy could be on equal footing with mr. mueller, and could be an absolutely determinative factor in how 2020 shapes up and in this administration's reelection prospects. you have to look at tax cuts as part of the broader picture. where is the economy going? what are the implications of national economics? people use the r word. all of that matters. you could see renewed talking
points about tax cuts to benefit "voters." that doesn't mean it will translate into anything but it could become part of the rhetorical debate. >> i think we need to draw this panel to a close. i want to thank all three speakers. i also wanted to give a quick shout out to the university of maryland for providing this space, and for pointing out that one of our panelists, margaret, is a umd grad. we will have a quick changeover. take a quick break but be back in a few minutes and we will get started on the next panel. [indistinct conversations] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]